I had been in the saddle for 300 miles but it felt more like 3000. The run was from Burlington, Vermont to West Chester, Pennsylvania, and I wasn’t farting around on this one with notions of taking pictures, waxing philosophical, or chasing tramp-stamps into bars. My start had been delayed by four hours of nearly horizontal rain. No less than 60 people I knew were on the road that day, all headed in my direction from a great rally. But they were old salts who regarded rain as part of the excitement of the trip. I had a brand new front tire and I thought of the rain as a life-threatening pain in the ass. They left at dawn while I waited for a break in the downpour and ended up riding alone.
Not that riding alone is a big deal for me... I just tend to get more easily lost in my thoughts, which can be like watching television when I cover long distances by myself. And despite the fact my mount was a 19-year-old BMW with narrow handlebars, the bike flew along vibration-free on the super-slabs, effortlessly maintaining speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. So I began to lose a sense of how damn fast I was going.
The entire week had been a series of late nights with the boys. So it could be argued that I was not up to my usual finely-honed sharpness too.
My knees felt like there were ten-penny nails driven into them. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the weather was playing hell with my arthritis. The line of thunderstorms did pass, but this was July and I felt like a steamed clam in the humidity. The conditions were ripe for a distraction and I threw in the missing ingredient, a daydream in which I was handing the soap to a former secretary in the shower, an event that never occurred. (And the reason it never occurred, according to her, is that there wasn’t that much alcohol in the world. I am amazed that she knew a statistic like that.)
Such was the scenario when a voice in my head screamed, “Wake the fuck up and do something!”
The late afternoon’s humid murk yielded to reveal a huge obstruction in my lane. It acquired definition in a split second, but my brain refused to accept the data. It was another second or two before I realized there was a detached pickup truck bed liner directly in front of me.
“Golly,” I thought. (Actually, it was more like “Holy shit.”)
Glancing over my shoulder to be sure of an opening, I leaned on the left handgrip with my chin. The bike swerved around this huge tub-like thing and returned like a reflex action.
All I could think of was, “Who the hell dropped the bed liner from their pickup and didn’t realize it?” And then a really horrible thought occurred to me. Suppose I had been riding in the dark. The bed-liner was jet black. It would have swallowed my headlights until it swallowed me and the bike. (I notified a cop at the next rest area.)
On one other ride, I came across a bale of hay in the road and easily avoided it.
So my question to all of you today is, “What was the most amazing thing you’ve come upon in the road, and how did you handle it?” The best answer wins an LED Mini MagLite, complete with batteries. In the event of a tie, the winner will be chosen at random (unless one of the contestants is really hot looking and sends her picture). That’s fair.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2009
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)